Is your pension safe? It may depend on what happens to your company


You diligently show up contributions to your company pension plan with the assumption you’ll get what you’re permitted to when you part with your employer.

But that may not always be the took place — depending on what type of plan you have and what happens to your partnership.

Currently, workers at both Sears Canada and Northstar Aerospace in Milton, Ont., are overlay deep concerns about their pension prospects because of the riddles plaguing their employers,

«This is not fair for us,» says Naresh Ajmani, who put ones feet up from Northstar in 2015 after working for the manufacturer for 22 years, sparking helicopter parts.

Ajmani recently learned from his union, Unifor, that because the Milton vegetable will soon be shut down due to lost business, his pension payments devise likely be cut back.

«They have broken their promises,» utters Ajmani, who joined more than 100 Unifor members Thursday to podium a protest at the plant. «I have set up my retirement. I’m not getting what I’m supposed to get.»

$6M shortfall?

Unifor rights that because the plant is shutting down in September, there determination be an estimated $6-million shortfall in the employee pension plan, which Northstar is refusing to top up. As a terminate, the union says the 250 laid-off workers and retirees will standing a potential 24 per cent reduction in their pension payments.

«To the workmen that are going to lose a couple hundred dollars a month, it’s meritorious. So someone’s going to have to fix this,» says Unifor national president Jerry Dias.

He also effected part in the protest, which included blockading the plant’s doors, baffling it from operating that day. «We had to take some dramatic action in symmetry to get their attention.»

Unifor Northstar Areospace

Unifor members protested outside the Milton, Ont., Northstar Aerospace informant, which is scheduled to close within two months. (CBC)

Unifor may have pull down some attention, but it still faces an uphill battle for better benefits.

Northstar employees don’t have a defined benefit pension where proprietors promise a certain level of payout to retirees.

Instead, they enjoy a target benefit pension plan where, if there’s a shortfall, the organization can choose to dole out reduced payments.

«We’re not talking about any flagrant wink for the collective agreement or breach of the labour relations act,» says employment solicitor Muneeza Sheikh, with Levitt LLP in Toronto.

«What we have is a case where Unifor is saying: what you’re doing from a public answerability standpoint, from a moral standpoint, is extremely disrespectful and a slap in the mush.»

Unifor Northstar Aerospace

Unifor members blocked entrances at the Northstar plant as part of their oppose on Thursday. (CBC)

Northstar’s parent company, Heligear, claims it’s not responsible for any tower pension problems. The U.S. company says it made all the required payments, and that the arrangement was underfunded when it took over the Northstar plant in 2012.

«Any reduction or shortfall is a job of the plan management and design, which are not within Heligear’s control,» the flock said in a statement.

Still, that’s little comfort for retirees equal Ajmani, who believes he will get a reduced pension. «Pension is a promise,» he says.

It may be a give indication of, but sometimes, promises get to be broken. Sears Canada retirees also uneasiness they may not get the pension they were promised. 

Sears Canada compensates 81 per cent

As part of a court-supervised restructuring process, the cash-strapped retailer is cease operation 54 stores and laying off 2,900 workers without severance.

Sears Canada has also sought court permission to stop topping up the underfunded retiree pension envision, though the retailer recently agreed to postpone that matter until Sept. 30.

Multitudinous of Sears’ 16,000 retirees fear that if the company is allowed to pull up making pension contributions, they will receive reduced golden handshake cause to retires. Sears claims that may not necessarily be the case. 

Recently laid-off staff members who are collecting their pension in a lump-sum payout are facing another worry.

Sears Canada is only paying them 81 per cent of their golden handshake cause to retire value at this time; the remaining 19 per cent will be produce resulted over five years, which is perfectly legal.

However, the demoiselles money makes Kim Throop nervous. The former floor manager exhausted 24 years at the Sears store in Coburg, Ont., before it closed in Cortege. She says she has already lost an estimated $16,000 in severance and now worries she may not in any degree see the rest of her defined benefit pension.

«There is some concern there, because you don’t understand what’s going to happen in the next five years,» says Throop. «If Sears seek the company ofs down, will we see that 19 per cent?»

Kim Throop Sears Canada

Former Sears Canada staff member Kim Throop fears she may never receive her full pension in the wake of the guests’s restructuring. (Kim Throop)

Employment lawyer Chantel Goldsmith says if the restructuring doesn’t produce and Sears goes bankrupt, chances are Throop won’t get the rest of her pension. Retirees desire become unsecured creditors who would have to line up behind get hold ofed creditors, like banks, to try to recoup that 19 per cent.

«If the secured creditors memo all the money in the pool and there’s nothing left for unsecured creditors, then, unfortunately, they’d be out of serendipity,» says Goldsmith, with Samfiru Tumarkin LLP in Toronto.

Of course, Sears may successfully restructure and Throop may in the end get her full pension.

But the situation is another reminder that sometimes there are no pledges that the pension you are promised on paper is what you will actually close out up with in retirement.

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